The Chili Conundrum: Beans Or No Beans?

I was born South of the Mason-Dixon line, but spent a portion of my childhood above it. I was raised by 2 Yankees in a sea of Southern traditions. I consider myself a Southern Girl….until I make chili.

I can’t help it. I love the beans. And so, like a Yankee I add beans to my chili. Sometimes I add pintos and sometimes I add black beans. It just depends on my mood and the contents of my pseudo-pantry.

Don’t get me wrong, I will eat chili without beans. I even enjoy chili without beans. But in this house, with me cooking? You will not be served chili without beans. (Go ahead, Sally- point and laugh away, but you know it’s true and you know you LIKE the beans!)

I think I have found a way to have my chili and my beans too. On Christmas Eve we join our long time family friends, the Colemans, to celebrate and have a meal and a cocktail…or four.

Every year the Coleman’s menu is identical to the year before. They get tamales from the best place in Houston, make taco salad with queso and, you guessed it, chili.

Their daughter, Sally, and I grew up together like 2 peas in a pod except my pod has beans and Sally’s pod does not. So when I heard that Sally was being entrusted with the chili this year, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Little did I know that she would show me a new way to solve the Chili Conundrum. You can have your chili, and your beans…and no one in Texas will have to know.  Go ahead, make your favorite chili recipe….but add a can of beans (any beans you like) after pureeing them. Yep, like baby food.

The blended beans add a smoothness and help to thicken the chili in case, like me, you’re a bit heavy handed with the Shiner Bock Beer when you add it. You get the great bean flavor, but no one has to know!

Chili – Terri’s quick and reliable version

1 white onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef
3 T Penzey’s Chili 9000
2 T Cumin
1 T Ancho Chili Powder
1 tsp salt
1 can (14.5 oz) beans ( black or pinto / pureed in their liquid)
2 cans (14.5 oz) diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 can (14.5 oz) tomato sauce
1/2 bottle Shiner Bock Beer (or other dark beer)
diced jalapeños to your hotness liking

Over medium-high heat, sautee the onions and brown the ground beef simultaneously. When beef is almost completely browned, add the garlic. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until you can smell the garlic. Add spices.

While the beef and onions are cooking, puree the can of beans. Then add to ground beef, onions and spices. Add the tomatoes and the tomato sauce and the beer and jalapeños.

Cook for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to blend.

Serves at least 2 – 2 cup portions.
Per Serving: 255 Calories, 7g Fat, 25g Carbs, 21g Protein

  1. mamacita
    December 30, 2011

    Girl, you know I love you, but I cannot abide beans in chili. Call it meat-and-bean soup, but it’s not chili!

    • AGirlintheSouth
      December 30, 2011

      But…but…but…it’s not WHOLE beans!

  2. Jeff Toister
    December 30, 2011


    By the way, Conundrum would go nicely with that chili.

    • AGirlintheSouth
      December 30, 2011

      See…this is why you need to live next door to me. Little tidbits like that would be helpful. ;D

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